News & Events

Singapore assumes leadership of ASEAN Furniture Industries Council for a two-year term

  • The Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC), a member of the ASEAN Furniture Industries Council (AFIC), takes over the baton from its Philippines counterpart to lead the eight-country member association into the next chapter of development.
  • Newly appointed AFIC Chairman Mr Ernie Koh aims to further strengthen the positioning of ASEAN industry players on the global scene by setting up a taskforce to assist member countries to adopt sustainability for future growth

SINGAPORE, 24 NOVEMBER 2021 – At the virtual 40th AFIC Conference that was held on 24 November 2021 morning, the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines (CFIP) handed over the reins of AFIC to its successor, Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC). The other member countries of the AFIC are Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Outgoing AFIC Chairman from the Philippines, Mr Emmanuel Padierno, handed over his duties to Mr Ernie Koh, who is appointed by the SFIC as Chairman of AFIC for the twoyear term. Mr Ernie Koh is the Presidential Advisor of SFIC and Executive Director of Koda Ltd, a respected and familiar figure who serve on the boards of various trade bodies. An industry veteran passionate about the furniture trade, he is also the chairman of SFIC’s trade show arm, International Furniture Fair Singapore (IFFS), and had served as SFIC President for two terms previously. With a vast experience behind him and strong international network of contacts, Mr Koh is well positioned to bring his expertise and leadership to take AFIC to greater heights. Always at the forefront of emerging trends, sustainability has been one of the key areas of focus for Ernie in his own company: “I am honoured to assume this AFIC Chairmanship and will build upon the good foundation established by the Philippines, the outgoing AFIC Chair, and respective Council Members to further strengthen intra-ASEAN trade and competitive advantage for the global market. As part of our AFIC 2025 roadmap towards a sustainable future, AFIC has the impetus to spearhead initiatives to uplift achieving sustainability and bridging the action-intention gap. A special Sustainability task force will be formed to work together with related stakeholders to tackle challenges faced in the bid to adopt green business practices and grow more regional growth champions. Koda, for instance, buys materials from sustainable sources and also aim to improve manufacturing processes through solar power systems in our manufacturing facilities. End consumers are now more knowledgeable about sustainability issues while corporate customers with similar needs will also source from suppliers that are compliant in this regard. There will be a greater demand for sustainable products in the coming future and our industry needs to embrace this trend which cannot be ignored”, Mr Koh said. Supported by veteran SFIC Executive Committee leader and AFIC advisor, Mr Jerry Tan, as well as the SFIC secretariat, other plans in the pipeline include initiatives to drive business transformation as well as capability building among AFIC members. SFIC Vice President, Mr Jake Tan, a nextgen leader, has been appointed as AFIC Secretary General and will be tasked with reviewing dated practices, engaging the ASEAN Youth Furniture Exchange and leveraging technology to pivot and expedite transformation. SFIC will also play host to the AFIC 41st Meeting and Conference in 2022 and further details will be announced next year.

AFIC to Hold its 40th Conference and Turnover Ceremony

The ASEAN Furniture Industries Council (AFIC) will hold its 40th Conference and Turnover Ceremony on November 24, 2021, 9am via Zoom.

Council Members from Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are expected to attend the said Conference.

A turnover ceremony of Chairmanship will also be held. Singapore will be the AFIC Chair for the Year 2022-2024. Philippines is the Current Chair.

For Council members, please click this link to register: 40th AFIC Conference Registration.

 

Sustainability by Association

Trade Associations and other industry groups have a significant role to play in ensuring sustainability in the wooden furniture value chain.

Furniture is one of those products – so ubiquitous that it can almost become invisible. It is at once everywhere, and just out of our notice. 

Most of us would be surprised to know that this industry alone is responsible for 12% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions (Sustainable Furnishings Council, 2021). Or that is the third-highest user of forest wood in the world.

A challenge at this global scale will take all of us to solve. From consumers choosing to purchase certified furniture to foresters committing to the necessary steps to harvest timber sustainably, we all have a role to play. That includes trade associations, who have some of the most important roles to play in ensuring a sustainable furniture value chain.

Unsustainable means bad for business

Unsustainable supply chains are not just bad for the environment, they are bad for business.

Today, corporate supply chains are bigger and more complex than ever before. When done right, a supply chain can deliver significant benefits to companies in the form of reduced costs, enhanced profitability, brand equity and shareholder value. It can also contribute to much-needed economic and social development, resulting in higher standards of living for billions of people.

When supply chains are done wrong – by not taking into consideration the environmental, social and governance performance of suppliers – companies leave themselves exposed to significant operational and reputational risks. Impacts on people and the environment can be substantial and severe.

Unsustainable, extractive supply chains also come with additional costs great and small. These include a scarcity of raw materials driving up production costs, and changes in consumer behavior if and when wooden furniture comes to be seen as a fundamentally unsustainable product. The value of the world furniture trade grew to $150 billion in 2018, and trends indicate that it will continue to do so. This trade employs millions of people from foresters to designers to sales-people in showrooms all across the world. No one in this value chain can afford the risk of operating unsustainably.

Unsustainable means ignoring consumers

Consumers worldwide are demanding sustainable products across a variety of fields, and industries that do not adapt to satisfy those demands are imperiled. Furniture customers are no different. Already in Europe, 87% of consumers report that they demand deforestation-free products, and a majority of 66% indicate that they would be willing to pay more for these products. To not source sustainably is to ignore consumer preferences – never a great business move.

To respond to consumers’ requests, together with international laws and sustainability regulations, a rising number of multinational corporations have pledged to work only with suppliers that adhere to social and environmental standards.

The role of trade associations

Trade associations like the ASEAN Furniture Industries Council (AFIC), given the nature of their membership and goals, have a unique role to play. Furniture trade associations are made up of businesses that operate all along the furniture value chain, which is why AFIC seek to encourage the long-term wellbeing of those businesses. This includes advocating for best practices, fostering productive collaboration and partnerships along the value chain, educating association members and the general public, and spreading positive industry awareness through public relations and advertising campaigns.

Another primary purpose of trade associations is to connect industry voices to the public policy discussion, to ensure both understanding and a seat at the table for their members. While some associations may lobby for specific policies, other like the AFIC, help ensure that members are educated, and understand what policy and regulatory frameworks mean for them.

Speaking out, one for all

Trade associations are also heavily involved in publishing activities. This includes publishing information on association websites, as well as in member newsletters, blogs and magazines. In many cases, this information is there as a resource to members, so that they can have the most up-to-date information to serve their individual business needs. Other times, the publications are about promoting individual member businesses to one another. But often, this publishing is also done with the general public in mind. That’s because trade associations are also concerned with public perceptions of their industry.

As well they should be. The wellbeing of industries depends on more than just the availability of raw materials, and accessibility of markets. Public perception is also paramount, which is why trade associations in the world over engage in messaging and awareness campaigns aimed at the general public. Unlike communications from a specific company, which would promote a specific brand of home furnishing (for instance), these are messages on behalf of an entire industry.

Furniture has a prominent place in the homes and offices of the general public. It is up to furniture associations to ensure that it also has a prominent place in their hearts and minds, and that the general public can be made to understand the good that the industry is doing by committing to sustainability. Occasionally, this includes helping to shape opinion on a specific issue, or to advocate in the interests of the furniture industry.

Champions of sustainable forest management

Given their role, trade associations like AFIC are well positioned to champion sustainable forest management. The question remains: why? Why is sustainable forest management important?

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines sustainable forest management as “the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems.”

Sustainable forest management is essential to ensure that the demands of society and industry do not damage or destroy forests, compromising them both as a resource for humanity and as a haven of biological diversity. It is impossible to overstate the importance of forests in terms of climate change mitigation and carbon sequestration. They are the ecological engine that drives our rainfall, and a reservoir of the organic compounds that drive discovery and innovation in our medical industry.

The “three pillars” of Sustainable Forest Management

Sustainable forest management creates outcomes that are (1) socially just, (2) ecologically sound and (3) economically viable. It is impossible to segment or compartmentalize these pillars, and attmempt to address them individually. If one pillar is missing, we cannot protect our forests, forest-dependent communities and rural economies cannot thrive, illegal logging will not be abated and development opportunities will not be captured.  To use a metaphor that is more fitting for the furniture industry, we can think of them as the legs of a stool.

In practice, this means that sustainable forest management must focus on all three outcomes at once. But that doesn’t mean that there is only one way to achieve these outcomes! Forests are diverse, from evergreen eucalyptus forests in Tasmania to tropical rainforests in South America and the Congo Basin and boreal forests in Canada. These forests face different natural challenges, grow at different rates, and emerge from terroirs that have significantly different nutrient distribution. So naturally, the sustainable management of these forests will be diverse as well. It also needs to take into account local traditions, cultural and spiritual expectations, average property sizes and support structures such as forest owner associations.

About AFIC

The ASEAN Furniture Industries Council (AFIC) was established as a regional trade organization to promote the interests of the ASEAN furniture industries. It is comprised of constituent members that represent the furniture industries of each ASEAN country and are certified by their respective ASEAN Chamber of Commerce and Industries, or its equivalent. As such, the AFIC benefits from both a regional and an industry-specific perspective. Their home in ASEAN member countries means that the AFIC has a front-row seat to the growing global demand for wooden furniture, and the pressure that it can put on some of the world’s most important forests. That’s why AFIC strongly supports forest certification, and the adoption of chain of custody certificates for other companies in the furniture value chain.

As a trade association, the AFIC believes that forest certification is important in ensuring sustainable wood supply management. They understand that their members need the wood for their continued profitability, and that everybody needs forests for our lives.

AFIC and PEFC – Stronger in Partnership

The AFIC is fully supportive of PEFC’s localized, pragmatic, collaborative and rigorous approach to certification. With members across ASEAN economies, AFIC understands how important it is to match goals and strategies to the local context.

PEFC works to tailor certification requirements and systems to the needs of the specific forest ecosystems, the legal and administrative framework of the sovereign nation they are found in, and the socio-cultural context of local communities in and around forests.

Important work, done together

FIC has joined forces with PEFC to create a Roadmap for a Sustainable Furniture Supply Chain. This will be key to ensuring that our members in the furniture industry can secure legal and sustainable wood products, which is essential to meeting both legal and production requirements around the world, not to mention allowing our members to meet the expectations of the modern consumer.

With this roadmap, AFIC and PEFC are taking the first steps on a four-year journey to improve sustainability outcomes throughout the furniture supply chain in the ASEAN region. From 2021 to 2025, our sustainability roadmap will seek to raise awareness of the importance of sustainably sourced forest and tree-based materials.

This will, in turn, boost consumer demand for certified materials. AFIC will also work to build capacity in the wood-based supply chain to facilitate members and companies to reach sustainability goals. Together, AFIC and PEFC will support companies who want to demonstrate legal and sustainable sourcing with PEFC certification. The first stage of our work together will deliver capacity building and build awareness and visibility for both AFIC and PEFC through various activities such as digital marketing, webinars, trainings, educational promotional materials events and business matching. This supports companies who want to demonstrate their legal and sustainable sourcing with PEFC certification.

The second stage calls for the creation of an ASEAN Furniture Sustainability Award to recognize companies that demonstrate a commitment to sustainable practices, including sourcing. With this collaboration, AFIC members will have a better understanding on the benefits of working with certified wood sources, and gain access to the many PEFC suppliers that will help us attain our goal of integrating sustainability in our manufacturing processes.

Learn more about our collaboration with PEFC here.

All eyes on Furniture

Right now, the AFIC is proud to partner with PEFC to launch an innovative global awareness campaign for sustainable furniture. This officially began on 15 September, when AFIC joined PEFC as we unveiled our campaign.

This official launch was done via webinar, and included a lively panel discussion with representatives from the media, youth voices, furniture producers, furniture retailers, as well as architects and designers. Mr. Nicolaas K. de Lange, Secretary-General of the ASEAN Furniture Industries Council, also participated in the panel to share a furniture industry perspective.

It was an outstanding discussion. If you missed the panel, you can still watch a full recording of it here.

For furniture associations, or companies hoping to join one

PEFC is proud of our successful webinar, but the official launch of our campaign is only the start of our collaboration with trade associations. If you are a furniture trade association, or if you are interested in joining one, please write to [email protected]  directly. We are committed both to your long term success, and to the long term health of our forests. The one, after all, can not be achieved without the other.

PEFC’s “Forest Are Home” Officially Launched

PEFC has successfully launched its furniture sustainability awareness campaign, Forest Are Home, last September 15, 2021.

AFIC’s Secretary General Mr. Nicolaas de Lange joined as a panelist representing the furniture industry, He shared the importance of AFIC’s recently signed collaboration with PEFC. He also stressed the advantage of sourcing responsibly.

Other panelist who joined the launch and shared their perspectives are Ms. Alina Lehikoinen, President – International Forestry Students’ Association, Mr. Alun Watkins, Executive Director – PEFC UK and Chairman of the Furniture Industry Sustainability Programme, Mr. Christian Farat, Director Quality-Environment- Fournier Group. The group also answered questions from the audience.

The launch was moderated by journalist Mr. Michael Tatarski and attended by more that 200 participants from around the globe.

If you missed the launch, you may watch it here: treee.es/furniturelaunch-recording

AFIC Takes Part in PEFC’s Sustainable Wood Furniture Campaign on Sept 15

We are excited to take part in the launch of PEFC’s Sustainable Wood Furniture Awareness Campaign on September 15, 4pm (Philippine Time). AFIC Secretary General Nicolaas de Lange will be one of the panelists during this event to represent the furniture industry. Experts and moderator from different backgrounds will join this launch to share perspectives, and discuss the challenges to, and opportunities for, sustainability in the furniture sector.

Being one of the top three users of wood in the world, furniture industry takes on this path to join PEFC in its vision for a sustainable furniture.

Come and join us and see how you can help! Register now! https://treee.es/PEFC-furniturewebinar